The severe cyclonic storm, Bulbul, which barreled through the coastal blocks in East Midnapore before hurtling towards Bangladesh, has wrecked havoc across the coastal district claiming one life last night.

Bulbul, which brought in its wake heavy rain coupled with gale winds till late Saturday night, damaged thousands of houses, uprooted hundreds of trees and snapped cables mostly in NandigramI and II, Egra-I and II, Deshapran and Contai blocks in East Midnapore.

This apart, hundreds of hectares of agricultural lands where aman crops were full grown stage across the district were flattened due to the impact of the severe storm. Betel vines and flower and vegetable cultivation were severely affected across the district.

Partha Ghosh, district magistrate of East Midnapore, said,”A total of 11,347 houses were damaged, among which 2,819 houses were fully destroyed. The agriculture department is assessing the losses in crop cultivation across the affected areas in the district. One woman identified as Sulata Das in NadigramII block died when a tree fell on her house which collapsed on her.”

According to the IMD, the very severe cyclonic storm had weakened into a severe cyclonic storm before making landfall close to Sundarban Dhanchi forest.

“Yesterday’s very severe cyclonic storm, Bulbul, over northwest Bay of Bengal (BoB) moved northeastwards, weakened into a severe cyclonic storm and crossed West Bengal coast close to Sundarban Dhanchi forest during 8.30 pm to 11.30 pm with a maximum sustained wind speed of 110-120 kmph gusting to 135 kmph,” it said in an official release.

The Met department also predicted light to moderate rainfall over the next six hours from 12.30 p.m. in North and South 24-Parganas, East Midnapore and Nadia districts.

According to the reports from Digha Development Authority, the sea beaches like Digha, Manadarmani and Tajpur were also affected. Several shops in Digha were damaged and high tidal waves flooded over 100 coastal villages in East Midnapore as well as Digha, affecting nearly 10,000 people and leaving thousands homeless.

Over 500 mud huts collapsed since last night, rendering over 2,000 people homeless. The villagers have been shifted to relief camps set up by panchayats in Shankarpur, Deshpran, Tajpur, Khejuri and Kendamari in Nandigram.

Due to heavy rainfall, hundreds of acres of low-lying areas in the coastal belt have been inundated. Bishnupada Jana, 48, a fisherman from the coastal village of Tajpur, about 10 km from Digha, said the sea began to swell around 8pm yesterday.

“There was chest-deep water in most parts of the village by 11 p.m. yesterday. The winds were so strong that my hut collapsed in front of my eyes. This morning, we took shelter at a relief camp set up at a primary school in our village,” Bishnupada said.

“Around 500 people from our village and neighbouring areas have taken shelter at the camp.”

Torrential rain lashed the district throughout Saturday, forcing people to remain indoors. Gale force winds with gusts up to 110 kmph prevailed over the coastal areas of the district and its adjoining areas as the cyclone made landfall around midnight on Saturday.

Mr Mahmud Hossain, a former sabhadhipati of East Midnapore zilla-parishad sought immediate relief to the affected people across the district and repair of the damaged houses. He also said that the cyclone has mostly affected the aman crops in the district and farmers are facing huge losses. They should be compensated immediately, Mr Hossain said.